The Road to Emmaus

Readings for this week May 6 – 10
Click here for a pdf of this week’s readings

Day 1 – Between the Now and the Not Yet

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Luke 24:13

The two disciples on the road to Emmaus had experienced both the deepness of community and the destruction of community. They had spent time with Jesus and the other disciples, they had travelled together, lived together, laughed and learnt together. But their dream of community had been torn apart by the death of the one around whom their community had gathered. Whatever rumours may have been circulating that Easter morning – of an empty tomb, a missing body – at that moment, the loss of Jesus was far more real to them than anything else.

Whether they realised it or not, Cleopas and his friend were walking the road between the ‘now and the not yet’, a place that God often draws us to in preparation for moving on to what comes next. They were trapped between irreparable loss, and the vague, inchoate possibility of something new and unknown ahead. And trapped in this liminal space, this threshold between one thing and another, they were powerless to move either backwards or forwards: powerless to prevent the events of the last few days, unable to move on from where they were now. As Ruth Haly Barton writes, “This is Abraham leaving his home country and his father’s house for a land he did not yet know. It is Joseph in the pit. It is the Israelites wandering in the wilderness between Egypt and the Promised Land. It is Jonah in the belly of the fish. It is Mary weeping at Jesus’ tomb. It is the disciples huddled in the upper room” (Life Together in Christ: Experiencing Transformation in Community, p.24).

Question to Consider
In what area of your life are you on the road between “the now and the not yet”?

Prayer
Lord God, give me the courage to live in these liminal spaces so that I may meet you in them and see where you want me to go next. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 2 – Sharing the Experience

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Luke 24:14

When we find ourselves in times of deep darkness and despair, our first response is often to withdraw into ourselves, keep our own counsel, and not share anything of our experience of loss, disillusionment and pain with anyone else. After all, how could they possibly understand what we are going through or how we are feeling? There’s no way anyone else can understand what we are feeling if we ourselves are still trying to figure it all out, so why try talking about it? The two disciples on the road to Emmaus were no doubt experiencing all of these emotions, and they had the option of responding in this closed off, silent, isolated manner. But they didn’t. They talked. They shared their experiences with each other.

They could have travelled together, and yet kept silent, or, as we often do, limited their conversation to safe, inane topics of no consequence in an effort to avoid sharing too deeply. But, again, they didn’t. They walked and talked together. And it was in travelling together that they created a space for Jesus to draw near them. By sharing deeply and honestly with each other about the deep issues and experiences of their lives they allowed Jesus into their presence. And that encounter with Jesus was life-changing. It totally transformed their grief and completely reoriented their lives. A deeper, truer sense of who Jesus was, who they were, and what it means to be a community of his followers grew in them on the road and around the table.

Questions to Consider
How do you respond to the idea of deliberately walking the road between the now and the not yet with others? How does this make you feel?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, speak to me through the lives of others, and speak through me into their lives, so that we can all meet with you as we journey together. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 3 – Welcoming the Stranger

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Luke 24:15-24

Two people are having a private conversation about something incredibly important to them that has affected them deeply; along comes a stranger, breaking into their conversation to ask, “What are you talking about?” Not only that, but he also comes across as incredibly out of touch, so much so that Cleopas gets a little annoyed with him and blurts, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” The stranger even seems deliberately to play dumb a little when he asks “What things?” It must be admitted Jesus plays the part of an interfering, ignorant, socially awkward stranger very, very well!

We’ve all had encounters like this, that annoying intruder who imposes on our space, our conversation, our grief, who just can’t seem to see that we don’t really want them around. We find it hard enough to share this deeply with people we know, never mind a complete stranger. But imagine what would have happened – or rather, what wouldn’t have happened – if Cleopas and his companion had not opened themselves up to an encounter with this stranger. Imagine what they would have missed out on. Jesus often appears as the stranger we don’t recognise. We need ‘otherness’ around us in order to be stretched beyond our own limits and our own views. We need others – strangers – to push us into those new, uncomfortable places where God can show us something that we would not otherwise see, would not otherwise learn, would not otherwise come to understand – just like Jesus did for these two grieving disciples.

Questions to Consider
When did you last welcome the stranger in to your life? How did you feel? What happened as a result?

Prayer
Sovereign Lord, help me see you in the stranger and may I welcome them in to my life as an opportunity to show your love to others. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 4 – Letting Others Hear and Make Sense of Our Stories

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Luke 24:25-27

On the road, in conversation with these two disciples, Jesus, the stranger, sees their sorrow. He listens to their story. And then he starts to transform it. He takes them through the story of scripture, Moses and the prophets, revealing to them the true nature of the story, showing them that what they thought was a shocking, devastating, irreversible curtailing of the tale was actually its amazing, no doubt surprising, fulfilment. The story changes for these followers of Jesus. And all of our stories have changed, whether dramatically, or subtly. We have all, I would hope, experienced the way in which the story of our life has changed in that encounter with Jesus. To see our story as it really is, as a part of God’s larger, loving story of his creation. To know that there is a good end coming, that we, as spirit-empowered people can pray for and work towards.

Cleopas and his friend were heading to Emmaus; their story, for whatever reason, was going in that direction. But the resurrection turned them completely around, turned their story around, and sent them back to where they had been, where the story they thought – they hoped – they were a part of had derailed. They find themselves turned around and heading for Jerusalem. But now with a new understanding of what has happened, and therefore a new framework for, and a new understanding of, who they are and who Jesus is. There is a twist to the story that takes it somewhere even better than they had initially dreamed. Their encounter with the risen Jesus completely changed the nature of the story the disciples thought they were in.

Question to Consider
How has Jesus changed and made sense of your story?

Prayer
Holy Lord, thank you for knowing and shaping and changing my story. Thank you that you have crafted a good end to our stories. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 5 – Ordinary Everyday Hospitality

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Hebrews 13:2

Hospitality is transformative. It isn’t just something we do. The very act of being hospitable, of opening up our homes and tables to sit down and share with others, transforms lives and relationships. After all, that is exactly what happened for these two disciples. It was just an ordinary meal in an ordinary home with a stranger they had invited in – and they met Jesus. Often we find this hard to do with those we don’t know. Inviting our friends to the table is easy; inviting strangers is hard.

But hospitality is not the way we prove our Christ-likeness. It is one of the central means by which stumbling, wayward disciples are transformed into Christ-likeness. Gathering around the table and breaking bread together was a key way Jesus met with others. Sharing food together is a great way of removing barriers and creating – and then deepening – relationships. Doing simple everyday things, like opening up our dinner table to strangers, is a very meaningful way of sharing what we have and who we are. If we keep hospitality just for special occasions then we have completely missed God’s point. He wants us to open our lives and homes to others as part of our everyday existence. As Amy Hunter says, “The Emmaus story reveals to us the image of a God and a church that walk alongside human confusion, human pain and human loss of faith and hope. Emmaus challenges us to see that it isn’t our unshakeable faith and deep spirituality that connect us with the risen Christ, but our smallest gestures of hospitality and friendship.”

Question to Consider
How has receiving the hospitality of others transformed your life?

Prayer
Lord God, may I be known for my hospitality, for opening up my home to others the way you opened up the kingdom for all to come in. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)